The annual Bridge Builder Award, bestowed by TechPoint Foundation for Youth, is dedicated to honoring exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to transforming Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education for Indiana students, particularly those typically underrepresented in the tech workforce. 

Antonia “Toni” Munguia, Director of Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity at Purdue Polytechnic, is the 2024 Bridge Builder.

TechPoint Foundation for Youth President and CEO George Giltner and Foundation Director of Programs Jamie Inskeep presented Munguia with the award last week at the 2024 Mira Awards gala.

“This award recognizes visionary leaders who have transformed science, technology, engineering and math education for Indiana students who are typically underrepresented in those same industries,” Giltner said. “Toni’s work and efforts fall directly in line with our Foundation’s vision.”

Inskeep said Munguia, in addition to bringing significantly more underrepresented students into STEM study, has also been a constant support for students with challenges big and small, academic and personal.

“One graduate describes her impact: “Without Miss Toni’s continuous encouragement, my life’s trajectory would have taken a different course.’”

At Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Munguia has improved the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented minority students by record-setting percentages. She offers encouragement, inspires students to follow their dreams and is committed to advancing Purdue Polytechnic as a beacon for diversity and inclusion in higher education.

For more than 20 years, Munguia has developed multiple programs specifically for women and underrepresented minority high school students. She was the driving force behind the growth of the VISION and TOTAL camps and leveraged that success to expand the model to target other pre-college students. She created, planned and implemented multiple outreach and recruitment camp programs to educate under-represented and female students about STEM careers and college majors, including their parents in the effort.

She also leads and creates retention programs within the Purdue Polytechnic. Her work on diversity has propelled Purdue as a leader in inclusive excellence.

Beyond Purdue, she has partnered with faculty on research and conference presentations focused on attracting and retaining underserved population and female STEM graduates and female leadership. In her time at Purdue Polytechnic, the organization has increased overall enrollment by 53 percent, increased under-represented minority students by 69 percent and women by 110 percent.  

“Talk about building bridges,” Giltner said. “Toni perfectly demonstrates what this award is all about. Her students – and all of Indiana – are so fortunate to have her.”